Photographs from US spy satellites suggest North Korea is building new missiles, reports say. Activity was detected at the same factory responsible for the country’s first ballistic missiles capable of reaching the US.
US intelligence agencies have satellite photographs that suggest North Korea has resumed building missiles at one of its factory sites, media reported Monday.
The reports come amid military talks between North and South Korea to curb tensions, and just weeks after a high-stakes meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
What the photographs show
- Images from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency appear to show ongoing work on one or two new liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), the Washington Post reported.
- Vehicles were photographed moving in and out of the North’s research facility at Sanumdong, a senior official told Reuters.
- A covered trailer photographed entering the site appears to be identical to vehicles previously used by the North to transport ICBMs.
- The pictures do not show how advanced the reported missile construction might be.
No comment from Washington
The White House did not respond to the reports, saying it did not comment on intelligence.
A senior official from South Korea’s presidential office also declined to comment, but told Reuters that US and South Korean intelligence agencies were closely monitoring the North’s movements.
Joel Wit, a former State Department negotiator and founder of 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project, said on Twitter that it was “unrealistic” to expect Pyongyang to stop its programs “until the ink is dry on an agreement.”
Vague vows: The reports of renewed activity follow Kim Jong Un’s pledge at last month’s summit in Singapore to work towards denuclearization. Donald Trump later declared that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat.” But despite these seemingly positive developments, Pyongyang has offered few concrete details about what denuclearization actually involves. It’s also not clear if US and North Korean officials even agree on the definition of denuclearization.
Denuclearization doubts: The satellite imagery is not the first sign that North Korea may be continuing development at its nuclear and missile facilities. In June, senior officials cited by US media said intelligence agencies believed North Korea had no intention of giving up its nuclear arsenal, and that the state had increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also reported last week that the North was continuing to make fuel for nuclear bombs despite its pledge to denuclearize.
Historic summit: The June summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un marked the first time a sitting US president had met a North Korean leader. The meeting followed months of hostilities between the two men, with Trump threatening to unleash “fire and fury” on Kim’s regime and Kim calling the US president “mentally deranged.” In the previous years the North had stepped up its nuclear missile tests, culminating in its first ever intercontinental ballistic missile test in July, 2017.
nm/rt (Reuters, AFP)